The hardest thing for most speakers to develop is not a new speech, or even their charisma, but rather their own uniqueness. Most people take years finding out what makes them individually special – the one thing that they can do, or see, or understand that is theirs alone.
That’s what I call Voice, and it’s rare, and I always know it when I see it. Usually it comes to people when they’ve experienced loss or failure, and they realize that they really don’t have anything to lose by being themselves – and everything to lose by not doing so.
For some people, it’s about losing the shame that often goes with being different as a kid, growing up, when all you wanted to do was fit in, or be liked, or join the popular crowd. And you don’t fit in because of your difference, so you think it’s the worst thing in the world. And then comes that magical day when you realize that it’s actually the strongest, best, most interesting thing about you.
But until that day, it seems like a hopeless flaw. Finding your Voice, in part, is finding a way to embrace your own so-called flaws and making them into a unique set of strengths that only you possess.
Until that wonderful day comes, you may feel like you’re laboring in a particularly difficult, thankless personality vineyard, searching for something that’s always just out of reach. Trying to be someone else feels like that, and it never goes away as long as there’s something left of your uniqueness still inside you.
Until that amazing day comes, here are a few questions to ask yourself to try to push you forward and to move you through that search a little faster. Good luck.
1.What do you naturally gravitate toward on your day off? Every single human occupation imaginable is for someone a game that they’ve figured out how to make pay. So turn your playtime on its head and ask yourself, is there some way I could make a living at this?
2.Is there some part of your current work day, or some aspect of your current work, that puts you in the ‘zone’? Maybe you’re happiest when you’re taking customer calls, the ones no one else wants to do. Or maybe you always raise your hand when the boss asks for someone to arrange the annual meeting. Or maybe writing the company newsletter is pure joy for you. Pay attention to what seems like work and what seems fun, figure out what the differences are, and then seize any chance you can to do more of the latter and less of the former.
3.What does everyone else think you’re crazy to like, or do, or say? Where you go against the grain is where you’re most likely to find your unique cut. So rather than shut down when it seems like you’re alone in your opinion, double down. Raise your voice, and your sights, and see how far you can take things. A career may be waiting for you on the other side.
The only way to find your voice is to begin the search now, with these everyday clues. And here’s one more exercise. Try to sum yourself up in one sentence, and see if you can articulate some uniqueness in that restricted compass. If you can, you’re well on the way to finding your Voice.
We’ll help you find your voice at our Powerful Public Speaking one-day workshop on March 31st in Boston — sign up now for one of the few remaining spaces!